Airtime: Mondays at 10PM on A&E
Episode: Season 1, Episode 8 (S01E08)
Tweetable Takeaway: The first blow is struck as #Damien finally grabs our interest in this week’s ep
“How do I know that it wasn’t the evil part of me that let this monster live? You said I get to choose, right? So how do I know when it’s the good side of me or the evil side that’s doing the choosing?” It took eight long episodes, but with these words, DAMIEN finally articulated why I should care about its titular character’s “Woe is me, I’m the Antichrist” existential crisis. While it’s not ideal that I hadn’t cared one iota about that prior to this episode, let’s give credit where credit is due. With only two episodes likely left in the show’s run, I have to admit that I am now interested in seeing what becomes of Damien, something that would have been previously unimaginable to me.
In this week’s episode of Damien, titled “Here is Wisdom,” Damien attempts to reconcile with the violence that has surrounded him his entire life, as he questions whether he’s capable of putting an end to it. For the first time, Damien felt to me like a real person instead of a hollow shell of a character, and I could see the effect that the ceaseless violence has had on him. That violence- the fact that wherever he goes and whatever he does, people suffer sudden, inexplicable violent deaths around him- has been a consistent (and consistently terrible) part of the show since it began, and was also a key element in The Omen films as well. Repeatedly we’ve seen that whenever someone stands in the way of Damien’s destiny of becoming the Antichrist, violent circumstances befall them.
Previous instances of the show trying to make the viewer care about Damien’s PTSD, caused by all of the violence he’s witnessed and feels responsible for, fell flat because of the laughable ways in which the violence was depicted. I didn’t care at all when Kelly died in a sinkhole, when Troy got his tie caught in an escalator and had his face torn off, or any other time that a character suffered a violent death. The characters were shallow and uninteresting and I wasn’t invested in their fates, so I felt none of the intended empathy for Damien about his survivor guilt. But last week the show took a step in the right direction with the introduction of Charles Powell, a rather interesting character who has both experienced Damien’s violence and perpetuated it.
We’d previously learned that Charles Powell was an old schoolmate of Damien’s whose obsession with him has lasted to this day, even despite the fact that Damien was responsible for a prank-gone-wrong that left Powell engulfed in flames, which hospitalized him for months. In last week’s cliffhanger, Powell violently murdered Cray Marquand, another schoolmate of theirs, after learning that he spoke ill of Damien to Detective Shay. When he hears what Powell did and that he did it for him, Damien begins to question the degree of culpability he should feel regarding these deaths, and whether he has any choice in the matter of stopping them.
From Powell’s perspective, the violence surrounding Damien isn’t accidental or divine providence, but rather it’s borne out of an innate evil within Damien. And after Powell asks Damien who they should kill next, and Damien pummels Powell to within an inch of his life, it’s hard to argue with that point. Though he’s afraid of the evil lurking within him, Damien now knows that killing himself to put an end to the violence is not an option, and he questions his new therapist Dr. Matthews about what choices are available to him. He wonders if it was right to let Powell live, knowing he’s a psychotic and evil person who has killed innocents in the mistaken belief that it’s what Damien wanted, and wonders whether that decision came from a place of goodness or evil within him. Would it have better more righteous to kill Powell, another evil act but one that could potentially save many lives in the future? Damien doesn’t have the opportunity to ponder this question for too long, as soon after this, Dr. Matthews visits Powell in prison and stabs him to death, before she’s shot to death by Detective Shay herself.
At this point in the story, both the viewers and Damien himself should realize that he’s incapable of stopping this violence. That doesn’t mean that no one is capable of stopping it, however. This week’s episode starts with Sister Greta and Simone finding one of the elusive Daggers of Megiddo, the only weapon capable of killing the Antichrist. Elsewhere, Ann Rutledge tries to destroy her own Dagger of Megiddo that she possess, only to learn that it’s indestructible.
Though it took awhile for her to emerge from the periphery, Sister Greta is a major player in the narrative now that she’s equipped with her Chekhovian dagger. Last week Greta made it sound like she would first try to see if there was any goodness in Damien, instead of merely killing him upon sight, but acquiring the dagger makes it clear that she’s willing to kill him if she feels the need. With Simone already on her side, Greta also tries to lure Amani to the cause this week, though she doesn’t succeed yet. She does succeed however in making Amani aware that Rachel is Ann Rutledge’s daughter and that she’s trying to get to Damien through him. He ends it with Rachel, but makes the idiotic mistake of mentioning Greta, for whatever reason believing that she was working with Ann despite the fact that she’s an envoy from the church. When Rachel tells her mother that her cover has been blown, she gets a new assignment, to learn more about the “nun” that Amani mentioned. She finds Greta and holds her up at gunpoint, only for Greta to disarm her and kill her.
For the past several decades, Armitage Global has watched over Damien from the shadows and the Vatican has drug its feet on taking any action against him, which has caused a sort of cold war to develop between them. But with only two episodes left and the endgame of the season (and likely the series) in sight, Greta’s killing of Rachel might be the incident that turns the heat up on this conflict. Now that I’ve finally been given an interesting avenue into understanding Damien as a character in this episode, I’m curious to see how the story will wrap up in the episodes to come.
Eric enjoys watching and making movies.
Eric Colasante | Contributor